I'm not sure exactly what I was expecting from this book. I think I expected to read something relevant to my life experience. Introverts come in many packages and have varied traits and skills. After the first few chapters the author seemed to focus on her particular brand of introversion, emphasizing qualities like sensitivity, empathy, being soft-spoken, slow and deliberate thinking, and even mentioned her own tendency to cry when she sees something that stirs her emotions. Now, I can't be the only introvert out there who is not particularly sensitive or empathetic, who does not notice many details--especially about people--because I am usually thinking of something else. I have never cried over a sad movie, but I know a lot of extroverts who cry at the drop of a hat. I found myself getting a little annoyed actually, and caught myself thinking, "No! That isn't me at all!"
She does cite a lot of research, and those parts carried some interest for a while. It often reads like the author's personal quest to achieve self awareness, and some of the examples she uses (Al Gore for one) make her political 'sensitivities' too much of a focal point for a book that should have been written to speak to introverts, not just to a certain kind of introvert.
No one should buy this book hoping to gain the kind of insight one can get from a great Myers-Briggs session, but people who share many of the author's own qualities will probably enjoy this very much. Others may not get much of out it.
This is a very important book for introverts seeking to understand themselves and defend themselves in a society dominated by extroverts. (I'm afraid it is too much to expect extroverts to read this book as they are always sure they are right and that everyone including introverts needs to take part in all the fun social and collaborative projects they dream up.) Especially important are the sections on workplace practices designed by extroverts that border on being abusive to introverts.
I hope the 25% of the population that are introverts will be moved by this book to stand up for themselves in social, family and workplaces situations where extroverts rule.
While I do thing the overall message of this book was good and necessary, I was bothered (and had a really hard time getting over) some basic biases? (not sure if that is exactly the right word) that the author had. First of all, she rages on Harvard MBAs and then quotes time and time again research that Harvard MBAs did.
I think one underlying fallacy that she adopts is the idea that people contribute high quality work because they are introverted. And that if only more people would be introverted, we would have more high quality work.
It's as if she is saying that only cars that take diesel fuel are good cars. Just because introverts are fueled differently than extroverts doesn't mean their quality of work is better or worse.
The author must have some bones she wanted to pick and so she added them (and eventually diluted) the main point of her book. I think it is important that we allow people to be introverted just as we allow people to be extroverted, but I think she missed the target on what makes a person contribute high-quality work.
This book will make any introvert feel a little more normal and accepting of themselves. The studies are thoroughly explained and relevant. However, even though this book is about embracing your introvert individuality, the author seems to be fond of collectivist politicians, so figuring out what angle the author is coming from overall is a bit contradictory. Nearly every example is a college professor or a liberal politician. There was also a mini rant about global warming. It would be a nearly perfect book, but some credibility was lost because of the unnecessary political references.
Two great passions - dogs and books! Sci-fi/fantasy novels are my go-to favorites, but I love good writing across all genres.
When I was in college I took a psych elective course which first introduced me to the concept of introversion/extraversion. It was such an eye-opener for this introvert and I excitedly told my Dad about it while home on break. His reaction was, "Get over it, introversion is a sin. You can't be a good witness for Christ, if you are shy." Fortunately, I was already old enough at the time that the statement, although painful, didn't diminish my faith and didn't convince me that I was sinning. But, it was many years before I understood that there is an enormous difference between shyness and introversion - neither one being a sin, IMHO. Over the years I have read what I could find about this aspect of temperament, took the Myers-Briggs test and confirmed my introvert status, and faked being an extravert whenever necessary. So, the conclusions of the studies the author cites (there are many) and her own conclusions were not shocking to me, but this book was still a true delight.
The book itself is well written. Many scientific studies are cited and described but Cain doesn't bog down the listener with dry detail. And, she intersperses the science with interesting real-life examples and illustrative analogies to drive home her points. Cain walks the listener through multiple perspectives of several facets of introversion and its often associated characteristics (like empathy, cautiousness, thoughtfulness, etc.) and provides wonderful examples of where and how this trait may work to advantage in life. And, provides some very useful mechanisms for an introvert to step into a more extraverted role when desired. She also gives some history to explain why my Dad and most people in our society got the idea that introversion is always a negative quality and something to be overcome. (It did help me find a little forgiveness for a comment that has been hurting me a bit for years.)
I recommend this book to anyone who is interested in the psyche in general - it is interesting, well-written, and well-narrated. Introverts will love it - proof for many things you've known intuitively, explanations for things you couldn't figure out, and, of course, appreciation for a quality you may have spent your life hiding from many people. Extraverts will find a lot of interesting information about extraversion also and how to use the trait more effectively in life. Any introvert will wish everyone he/she loves would read the book because it explains much that introverts have trouble making their extraverted loved ones understand. But, ultimately, I wish all parents would read this book or something like this so that the MANY introverted kids out there could be affirmed and appreciated for who they really are. It is a pity that virtually all American introverted kids will have to use some of their adult years and energy getting over the judgments and cuts to self esteem that inevitably come to a sensitive thinker in a Just Do It society.
Absolutely, because there are plenty of "us" out there that need to hear this message: "You have so much to offer so don't sell yourself short."
Being an introvert isn't a negative.
This book has put my life into perspective as no other book could. As a shy introvert, I can rest in the knowledge that no explanation is necessary for "being me". Turns out, I'm pretty cool, and always sitting in the back of the room is perfectly acceptable. Yay me and thanks Susan Cain!!!
I wish I could have read this to prepare me for growing up. Instead of one of the many Shakespearean plays read in elementary school, this type of content could have instilled confidence and understanding. From the beginning of school through all the way to the end of my failed marriage, I felt I was different and didn't know why. That difference was assumed negative. This book is invaluable and if I could, I would apologize to myself in the past for not being grateful for who I was and for not accepting myself wholeheartedly. Sincere thanks to Susan for telling what needs to be known.
...if you are an introvert. The feeling that someone has written about you and the experiences you have, makes this book something to cherish, and validates your being just who you are, how you are.
It was refreshing to find so much relevant and well thought out information about introverts and introversion organized in one place. The progression of the book seems perfect to me.
I have always known I am introverted and some of what comes with that, but I have believed that it was necessary for me to overcome my introversion, as though it were a handicap. That always left a strong tension in between who I believed I was and who I thought I was supposed to be. Even while listening to this book, I began changing my perception of myself and altering my habits, and the difference has been notable.
I recommend this book, not just to people who are shy or have social difficulties, but even to people who, like me, find that being bold and assertive, social and outgoing, takes a heavy toll. There are ways to be powerful and effective without forcing yourself to be what others expect of you.